Friday, July 29, 2005

Yes, but

I believe it's important to include, as one of our first posts, the one statement that was instrumental in prompting me to suggest to "JIMH" (don't know why he's stopped using his real name) that we set ourselves up as a "team blog" for the larger world's benefit (or detriment).

Without further ado (other than to give credit where credit is due, in this case, to the mysterious JIMH), here it is:

"By the way, I hate to destroy your opinion of me, but if I were appointed to the US Supreme Court, and was asked in the Judiciary Committee whether Roe v. Wade was correctly decided, I'd probably answer as follows: "As a matter of constitutional law, I believe it was wrongly decided; however, as a matter of social policy and individual responsibility, I don't believe the government should intrude on such personal decisions. Furthermore, as a matter of stare decisis, I see compelling reasons that the Court should not revisit the issue and no compelling reasons that it should, and, therefore, I would not be in favor of doing so."

... the foregoing being motivated by biographical parallels between the statement's author and the Administration's pending Supreme Court nominee.

And that, to my mind, deserves a wider airing!


Blogger Jim H said...

Those biographical parallels being: we are both Harvard College 1976 (where we lived in Leverett House) and Harvard Law School 1979.

The similarity ends there. Roberts graduated from college summa cum laude in history and was a member of the law review at HFLS.

He has obviously gone on to bigger and better things than have I.

August 01, 2005 9:22 AM  
Blogger Richard Wolfe said...

Yes, he has followed in the footsteps of Clarence Thomas.

August 01, 2005 7:25 PM  
Blogger Jim H said...

I'm not sure you can say Roberts follows in the footsteps of Thomas.

For example, the ABA just rated Roberts as "well qualified" for the Supreme Court--its highest rating.

Thomas got a rating of "qualified", but with some members of the ABA committee voting him "not qualified."

August 18, 2005 10:24 AM  
Blogger Richard Wolfe said...

Clearly, he has passed his tests, but it's the toadying aspect that I was thinking of. I believe that in every group (blacks who grew up in the Civil Rights era, elite law students, ...) there's a minority that, influenced by thoughts of a quicker path to the top, adopts an unwavering loyalty to what is essentially just selfishness.

August 22, 2005 4:11 PM  
Blogger Richard Wolfe said...

I forgot to put this link into my "toadying" comment.

It's about Roberts' conservative cabal at HFLS.

August 22, 2005 4:16 PM  
Blogger Jim H said...

Do not believe everything you read, even if it is in the NYT.

As I replied earlier today to a friend: This story is so much bull****. Remember, I was there.

The claim that Harvard College was some bastion of revolutionary anarchy in the mid-70s isn't even close. In fact, it's laughable. Harvard has always been conservative. Claims that conservatives in the 1970s were somehow an abused and closeted minority, and of some "conservative cabal" defending against such abuse are, at best, historical revisionism.

My friend replied, agreeing that "the whole notion of his being strongly at odds with some opposite prevailing culture is what is the bull****."

In other words, the theory that Roberts has some motivation to get back at the nasty radicals who dominated his life at Harvard is absurd. There was a mix of people and a vibrant and candid exchange of opinions, as they say, but that's all.

August 22, 2005 4:28 PM  
Blogger Jim H said...

John Roberts will be confirmed—and he should be.

If that means you are going to take away my liberal Democrat credentials, so be it.

You don’t like his politics or his conservatism? Well, tough. The Democrats didn’t put up a candidate or a story that was persuasive enough to win the 2004 election. This is what we get as a result. That’s the way the system works. If Bush had lost, you wouldn’t be crying out for a centrist nominee, now would you?

Roberts is a brilliant legal scholar. I’ve got my fingers crossed that he is not an ideologue. His testimony suggests that there is hope. That he was in private practice as an advocate means that he has been forced to consider his opponent’s arguments, and that he is skilled at seeing the all sides of an issue. His ego, which I have no doubt is significant, should also weigh against his being an extremist. If he wants to go down as a great Chief Justice, then he has to be able to build a consensus on the Court. He cannot do so by insulting and belittling the justices who are less conservative. I do not think he will do so.

As far as evading questions in the confirmation hearing, that’s old hat by now. All nominees have done that, at least since Bork. The Democratic Senators shouldn’t complain about Roberts using a page from their playbook.

Indeed, the most blatant ideologues I saw on display were the leftist opponents who testified against Roberts. As far as I am concerned, their shrill objections lost them most, if not all, of their credibility. This loss will come back to haunt them if the next nominee is as bad as we fear.

For George Bush, the Roberts nomination is as good as it gets, and way better than could have been expected. Anyway, he’s replacing Rehnquist, which at worst is an even trade. Keep your powder dry for the nominee to replace O’Connor. That’s when it will be needed.

September 19, 2005 3:26 PM  
Blogger Richard Wolfe said...

I agree. You capture it well.

But I do not think the Democratic Senators have the spine to stop a radical nomination for O'Connor's seat. Plus, Bush will probably choose a woman (echoes of the cynicism of nominating Thomas for Marshall's seat, only with the whole spectrum shifted still farther right ... would that be a "red shift?")

In that light, not only does Roberts deserve to be confirmed but we are lucky to get him. How many other rational human beings have been appointed for any position in the Bush Administration?

September 19, 2005 4:35 PM  
Blogger Jim H said...

I'm placing this comment under an old post because it's a convenient place for discussion of the President's Supreme Court picks.

I was having trouble getting really upset about Harriet Miers, given the other even-more-terrible alternatives that our Great Leader could have selected, until I began to hear her being defended because of her religious views.

That was all I needed to hear. I cannot express how strongly I object to even a suggestion that we should put someone on the Supreme Court so that she can decide cases based on religious beliefs (that plus her allegiance to the President). This push to turn the United States into a Christian Fundamentalist state has to stop.

Had it been suggested that John Roberts should be confirmed because, wink-wink, you know a good Catholic will overrule Roe v. Wade, and had he not explicitly rejected any such sentiment if it had been voiced, then I would have urged that he not be confirmed. Given his intelligence and qualifications--and what I believe to be a desire to be known as a great Chief Justice--I am hoping that he will be what a justice should be.

But given Ms. Miers' modest (I'm being nice) qualifications for the Supreme Court, her incomprehensible blind faith in Bush, and her pronouncements that Bush is the most intelligent person she's ever known, coupled with this emphasis on her fundamentalist religion as justification for her nomination (an argument she has NOT disclaimed), her confirmation would be a disaster and an embarrassment.

NO! on Miers.

October 17, 2005 9:49 AM  
Blogger Jim H said...

Strike two (or maybe three):

The 1989 questionnaire for Dallas city council candidates released today shows Harriet Miers confirming her support for a constitutional amendment banning abortion.

The significance of this evidence to me? It shows her to be someone not satisfied with simply overturning Roe v. Wade, which would undoubtedly leave abortion legal in many states, such as California and New York, where the majority favors the current state of the law. She is a militant fundamentalist who believes in imposing her intolerant minority views on everyone else, and in demeaning the Constitution to reach that goal.

The ONLY correct answer to this question--if you believe in the Constitution--is NO.

Remember when Republicans were for states' rights and balanced budgets?

October 18, 2005 10:42 AM  
Blogger Richard Wolfe said...

Thank you, Jim H! Sincerely. Believe it or not, the behavior of the religious right with regard to Miers has had me puzzled enough to be of two minds about actively opposing the nomination. But your last two posts clear that up.

Do you suppose the right's objections are explicitly to confuse people like me and overly broad minded Democratic senators?

JUST-FOR-FUN DEPT.: States' rights? Weren't they what the Democrats cited to the Republicans to justify secession?

October 18, 2005 11:14 AM  
Blogger Jim H said...

Here are her actual answers to the questionnaire in all of their glory:

Harriet Miers on abortion

Folks, there's no doubt where she's coming from!

October 18, 2005 2:24 PM  
Blogger Jim H said...

And here's the website for the organization (name slightly changed since 1989) that sent her the questionnaire--she's on record as having made a donation to the organization in 1989 and having been a bronze sponsor of a dinner with Henry Hyde as the keynote speaker:

Texans For Life Coalition

October 18, 2005 2:36 PM  
Blogger Jim H said...

From Charles Krauthammer's Miers: The Only Exit Strategy, published October 21:

"We need an exit strategy from this debacle. I have it. . . . Miers withdraws out of respect for both the Senate and the executive's prerogatives, the Senate expresses appreciation for this gracious acknowledgment of its needs and responsibilities, and the White House accepts her decision with the deepest regret and with gratitude for Miers's putting preservation of executive prerogative above personal ambition. Faces saved. And we start again."

From his lips to Karl's ears.

The sad thing is that tens of millions of Americans probably will believe that it was the Senate's "unconstitutional" demand for White House documents that led to Miers' withdrawal, rather than the consensus on both sides of the aisle that she was the wrong person for the job and that her confirmation hearing was destined to be an embarrassing disaster.

October 27, 2005 9:47 AM  
Blogger truejim said...

Well, now she is gone, vanished like a puff of smoke. One could wonder whether that latest revelation about her interesting 1993 speech in Dallas, which story has been mentioned in the news coverage this morning as a possibly salient factor, may have been the straw that broke the camel's back on the deteriorating right-wing support for her nomination. Of course, she may have been doomed anyway due, among other things, to the executive privilege issue re documents she generated while working in the White House, not to mention that her qualifications, as we all know, were weak to begin with.

What a fiasco for Bush, bespeaking astonishingly poor and even reckless judgment, even for him, and that's saying something! But there's a caveat, and I'm certainly not the first to say it. What if, after all, there actually may be a method to his seeming madness? Is that a far-fetched thought, a dangerously paranoid thought? Well, perhaps. But as Tom Sizemore said to Ralph Fiennes in one of the best moments in that really good cult classic film "Strange Days": "The issue, Lennie, isn't whether you're paranoid. I mean, just look around at this incredible shit. The issue, my man, is whether you're paranoid ENOUGH!"

So the sodden thought, the paranoid thought if you will, is that behind this seeming chaos and recklessly poor judgment is a bizarre yet possibly very effective agenda: With Miers put up as a kind of stalking horse, and then publicly destroyed in a manner that has energized Bush's right-wing base, does Bush now do their bidding by putting up for the Court one of their own, a true hardcore right-wing Federalist Society federal appellate judge, one of those members of the "team" that Robert Bork complained that his side had been cultivating for the past 20 years and that Bush had betrayed them all by failing to select from? And if that were to happen, with everyone battle weary from Miers, would the Dems be able to stop the juggernaut?

October 27, 2005 10:10 AM  
Blogger Jim H said...

From the AP through Yahoo:

"Let's move on," said Republican Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi. "In a month, who will remember the name Harriet Miers?"

That's cold.

I am not as paranoid as truejim. I think this was an example of a Bush screw-up rather than Rovian machinations. But it matters little. truejim is correct: we should expect a Federalist Society federal appellate judge with true-red conservative credentials.

October 27, 2005 11:02 AM  
Blogger Jim H said...

In a more humorous vein, at least to some, and in case you had not seen it previously:

Harriet Miers's Blog...

October 27, 2005 11:18 AM  
Blogger Richard Wolfe said...

A devious nomination, eh? If so, then POTUS must have a high threshold for pain. Exhaust the left, then appease the right. Could work, but how to know for sure? Why go through all that pain if there's no assurance that the left won't oppose a female Scalia-Thomas just as vehemently, Miers or no?

But this is hardly fair, coming from yours truly, Mr. Paranoia himself. Jim H: have you traveled lately? If so, have they relented and taken you off the list? I hope the answer is "no," so that I can go on claiming that there's a political motivation for harassing you.

So go ahead, truejim, call it a plot. In this day and age, that's not paranoia. It's healthy skepticism.

October 27, 2005 7:43 PM  
Blogger Richard Wolfe said...

To the Editor:

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld represents not so much a "victory" for the rule of law as a reprieve.

The radical-right movement that now controls the executive and legislative branches of our government and has placed four "radicals in robes" on the highest court is bent on the destruction of the very constitutional democracy each had taken a solemn oath to defend.

The so-called war on terror has provided political cover for a raw assertion of unchecked executive power. The Fourth Estate, and The New York Times in particular, are under attack for exposing the administration's lawless behavior.

Unlike Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, lawsuits brought in the wake of the president's unlawful, warrantless National Security Agency domestic eavesdropping are endangered by the administration's expansive assertions of the "state secrets privilege."

The rule of law may well be just one Supreme Court appointment away from extinction.

Ernest A. Canning
Thousand Oaks, Calif., June 30, 2006
The writer is a lawyer.

July 01, 2006 8:56 AM  
Blogger Richard Wolfe said...

"What Chief Justice Roberts Forgot in His First Term: Judicial Modesty"

"Radicals in robes" -- four and counting...

Stevens is 86 years old.

Twilight draweth nigh.

July 09, 2006 9:11 AM  

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